- The Washington Times - Monday, July 1, 2002

Curiously silent
Education groups were curiously absent from the public outrage last week over the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' Pledge of Allegiance ruling.
Contrast that with the organizations' reaction to the Supreme Court's ruling upholding vouchers, which drew immediate and total condemnation: The National Education Association pledged to "fight for children and public education and oppose divisive and counterproductive proposals to divert energy, attention, and resources to private school tuition vouchers." The National Association of Elementary School Principals went further to express "grave disappointment," and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) said the ruling highlighted "a serious disconnect between the issues which need to be dealt with and the solutions put forth."
The National PTA issued releases on both decisions. But while the group found the decision on vouchers "disappointing," it wouldn't take a stand on the Pledge ruling, saying it has "no position on the 'under God' language."
NASSP spokesman Michael Carr said several factors were at work in the decision.
"The Pledge ruling in the 9th Circuit is one that's still lingering. I think most groups have said it's not in a final format. It's something that will probably be appealed," he said. "The voucher case with the Supreme Court, that's the final decision the law of the land."

Gore vs. Powell
Former Vice President Al Gore, at his weekend political retreat, tried to pick a fight with President Bush over the war on terror. But it was Secretary of State Colin L. Powell who responded yesterday on "Fox News Sunday."
Host Tony Snow ran a video excerpt of Mr. Gore's speech: "President Bush unfortunately has allowed his political team to use the war as a political wedge to divide Americans," Mr. Gore said. "They haven't gotten Osama bin Laden or the al Qaeda operation, and they have refused to allow enough troops from the international community to be put into Afghanistan to keep it from sliding back under control of the warlords."
Mr. Powell returned fire: "With all due respect to former Vice President Gore, that's patent nonsense. We have a good situation in Afghanistan. We have gotten rid of the Taliban. Al Qaeda's on the run, and we'll chase them down. It's time-consuming. I noticed the previous administration didn't even make a serious try at it."
Mr. Snow quoted from an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in which Clinton-era Ambassador to Sudan Timothy Carney and an American Muslim who had negotiated with Sudan, Mansoor Ijaz, said the Clinton administration had failed to accept an offer from that nation to hand over bin Laden.
Mr. Powell said: "Well, perhaps that's what Vice President Gore should have been talking about, what happened on their watch as opposed to the progress we've made on our watch, not only in Afghanistan but, I would also submit, in Sudan."

Martha and Bill
"Something about Martha Stewart's words had a familiar ring:
"Martha (furiously chopping cabbage on CBS's 'Early Show'): 'I think this will all be resolved and I will be exonerated of any ridiculousness. And I choose to go ahead with my work. And we will continue to do that. And I want to focus on my salad.'
"If I hadn't seen it on 'Saturday Night Live,' then where?" Gloria Borger writes in U.S. News & World Report.
"The White House.
"President Bill Clinton: 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people.'
"That's the formula: Get back to your important work for the people. Dismiss the frivolous allegations. And then find yourself becoming a cultural lightning rod, an unwitting parody of yourself," the columnist said.
"It happened to Bill Clinton, and it's happening to Martha Stewart. But there's something more to the schadenfreude surrounding her troubles. Did Miss Do-It-Yourself dump the stock by herself? Did Miss Perfect obstruct justice? Inquiring minds want to know and clearly hope the answer is 'yes.' Next thing you know they'll be trekking en masse out to the Hamptons to short her sheets."

Martha's defender
Martha Stewart has at least one congressional sympathizer in the probe of whether she was involved in insider trading on ImClone Systems Inc. stock.
"I have to question whether she was really an insider. You are an insider if you are a corporate officer or somebody. But she was a stock owner," Rep. Michael G. Oxley, Ohio Republican and chairman of the Financial Services Committee, said on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields."
Investigators want to know if Miss Stewart had inside information when she sold nearly 4,000 shares of ImClone stock the day before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in December that it was rejecting the company's experimental drug for treating colorectal cancer. Miss Stewart received $240,000 in the sale.
Asked what Congress will investigate in the Stewart scandal, Mr. Oxley said, "I don't know. We've got other things to do, including WorldCom. Really, this is a very big deal. They had $4 billion overstatements. We're going to be very aggressive on that."
The chairman said his committee will hold a hearing on WorldCom on July 8.

J.C.'s plans
Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., Oklahoma Republican, will announce in his home state today whether he will seek a fifth term in the House of Representatives, aides told Reuters yesterday.
Mr. Watts, 44, elected to Congress in 1994 as part of the "Republican Revolution," has been leaning in recent weeks toward returning to private life, aides said.
"I'd say the chances of him retiring from Congress are at least 50-50. But I'm not sure J.C. has actually made a final decision," one aide said. "He will announce one tomorrow."
Mr. Watts has been chairman of the House Republican Conference since 1998. He considered retiring from Congress in 2000, but House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, helped convince him to seek a fourth term.

On the defensive
People for the American Way, a liberal group that has led the way in attacking President Bush's judicial nominees, sounds a little defensive these days.
On its Web site (www.pfaw.org), the group congratulates itself on being criticized by conservatives, while at the same time denying it was unfair to such nominees as Judge Charles Pickering, the Mississippian the group implied was a racist while denying it was doing any such thing.
"People for the American Way is public enemy No. 1 for right-wing pundits, politicians, editorialists and organizations these days. Our aggressive and effective work over the last year has spawned a wide-ranging series of attacks that are often baseless, petty or both," the group said.
"The defeat of Judge Charles Pickering's nomination to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sent the right into apoplectic fits. Three times recently the Wall Street Journal's editorial page ran lead editorials attacking PFAW and its president. Pat Robertson's son and media heir, Gordon, attacked PFAW on 'The 700 Club,' accusing us of 'anti-Christian bigotry,' actually arguing that PFAW opposed Pickering because he was a Christian."
The organization went on to rebuke other "right wing" individuals, organizations and media for questioning its methods, including National Review correspondent Byron York; the Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly; the Rev. Jerry Falwell of the Traditional Values Coalition; Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican; Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican; the Media Research Center; political pundit Andrew Sullivan; Fox News; and The Washington Times.

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